IT could be described as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

I’m referring of course to the Champions League semi-final first leg between those two Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.



The match was shown live on ITV in the UK and was billed as a classic encounter between two of the best teams in the world.

The good was the technical excellence displayed by both sides but especially by Barcelona. How on earth can you win a football match if the other team don’t let you have the ball?

Barcelona’s possessional skills were a treat to watch but even that was surpassed by the two-goal hero Lionel Messi.

The tiny Argentinian is well on course to be confirmed as the planet’s best footballer and his two magnificent goals were a joy to behold.

The bad was the tetchy, ill-tempered behaviour of both sets of players, running to the referee like mardy schoolkids complaining to ‘Miss’ whenever things didn’t go their way.

The ability to fall over and writhe in apparent agony whenever they came into the slightest contact with another player was worthy of an Oscar.

We get a bit of that sort of nonsense in the English game (mainly, it has to be said from foreign imports) but this lot were a disgrace.

The ugly – well apart from Barcelona’s Carles Puyol (what a mean looking brute he is) –  the post-match comments made by the Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho which  left a sour taste in the mouth.

The former Chelsea boss said, amongst many other things: “It’s clear that against Barcelona you have no chance. I don’t know if it’s the publicity of Unicef [the club’s shirt sponsor], I don’t know if it’s because they are very nice, but they’ve got this power.

“I don’t know if it’s the friendship of [Spanish football federation president Angel Maria] Villar at Uefa, where he is vice-president.”

He added: “I hope that one day [Barca coach Pep Guardiola] will win a clean Champions League, with no incidents behind it.”

The aftermath of the game produced accusation and counter-accusation with Uefa promising a full inquiry.

What a great pity that such a showcase sporting event sunk into the gutter in such an alarming fashion.

Who’s a naughty boy then?

According to The Sun the Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has notched up nearly £10,000 in parking fines and had his luxury car impounded 27 times

The paper reports that liaison officers at the club are “ tearing their hair out” as they have had to go back time and time again to reclaim his Maserati.

A source at the club told The Sun: “Mario will drive from his luxury apartment to a restaurant a few streets away and leave the car on double yellows.

“The other week the Maserati misfired so he just abandoned it. Staff have had to bail it out 27 times.

“The valet the club uses empties the glovebox of tickets every time he cleans it. Mario doesn’t seem to care. It’s a drop in the ocean to him.”

As the football calendar nears its end there are still plenty of promotion and relegation issues to be concluded.

The Football League has its final day this coming Saturday and for those of us whose teams have endured a poor season, it can’t come soon enough.

There’s nothing like a long, hot summer away from football to revitalise your optimism before it all starts all over again.


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